Federal Tort Claims Act—Preclusive Effect of a Prior Judgment

Simmons v. Himmelreich, No. 15-109

In February 2010, a federal prisoner brought an action in federal court against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) for torts arising out of an alleged assault by a fellow inmate. Later that year, the prisoner brought a Bivens action against two prison employees in connection with the same injuries. The prisoner’s FTCA claim was dismissed by the district court because under the FTCA provision that prohibits claims based on a federal employee’s performance of a discretionary function. The prisoner’s Bivens action was later dismissed under the FTCA’s judgment bar, which provides that a judgment in an FTCA action “shall constitute a complete bar to any action by the claimant” arising from the same subject matter. After the court of appeals reversed, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether the FTCA bars subsequent actions when an FTCA claim has been dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.